Finding strength in numbers
Family-owned Rhythm & Booze continued to expand beyond its South Yorkshire heartland , working towards its goal of opening 100 shops in the UK.
The retailer - along with Bargain Booze and Wine Cellar - has picked up on the benefits of going into partnership with convenience retailers.
It opened joint venture shop Chill with frozen food specialist Fulton's in Worksop, Notts, last autumn and plans 30 Chill-branded concessions at Fulton's across Yorkshire, Lancashire and the north east by the end of March. Another, larger joint venture shop will open in Hemsworth, West Yorkshire.
The next stage of Rhythm & Booze's expansion will see it open co-branded shops with Fulton's or, where this is not possible, separate stores nearby.
Managing director Martin Swaine is also considering the viability of bringing various retailers together with Rhythm & Booze under one roof at out-of-town sites. He is also looking at retail parks as another potential site for expansion.
As far as its own shops are concerned, Swaine says Rhythm & Booze will focus on the area "between the M62 and M180", but no location will be ruled out.
Last year, the company was the first specialist chain to be fitted with TV advertising screens showing three-minute loops of 10-second films, including ads for national brands and space for its own promotions. As they are linked to each shop's EPoS system, sales before, during and after each ad can be monitored.
Swaine says the business enjoyed sales growth last year, and the biggest challenge for the year ahead, he says, will be: "Continuing to grow business in the face of ever-increasing competition. Not so much from specialists, more from the big four supermarkets."
Rhythm & Booze
The Old Chapel, Doncaster Road, Ardsley, Barnsley S71 5AY
Current size of estate: 39 shops
Shop formats: Rhythm & Booze (38), Chill joint venture (1)
Key personnel: managing director, Martin Swaine; chairman, Ronald Swaine; buyer, Sandra Purdie; stock controller/buyer, Dennis Clayton; financial controller, Phil Rayworth; security manager, Gary Evans
Year founded: 1993
Number of employees: 320
Financial data: not available, private company